Wollongong’s Liberal deputy lord mayor John Dorahy will lead his party’s campaign in the city at the upcoming September 9 council election.
After several weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations, the party has revealed its four lead contenders.
In the southern suburbs (Ward 3), 31-year-old councillor Bede Crasnich’s decision not to stand has made way for another young candidate, Cameron Walters.
A race car driver who has previously run for state parliament, the 25-year-old was being considered for Leigh Colacino’s safe northern suburbs (Ward 1) spot.
However, the Stanwell Park artist – who has been a strong advocate for a number of successful tourism projects during his six years on council – was reportedly saved by a number of powerful friends, including his next door neighbour Joe Hockey.
Cr Dorahy will also stand as a councillor in the central suburbs (Ward 2), along with Michelle Blicavs, who will be listed second on the ticket.
In 2011, Cr Dorahy got 23 per cent of the mayoral vote after preferences – second to Gordon Bradbery’s 35 per cent.
Labor’s 2011 mayoral candidate, Chris Connor, gained 19.3 per cent of the vote.
Asked about his chances of repeating or bettering this result – and about the chances of having four Liberal councillors re-elected – Cr Dorahy said he thought the party was well-placed, despite the very different political climate.
However, he acknowledged it would “always be difficult against Gordon Bradbery”.
The sitting independent Lord Mayor has confirmed he will run for the city’s top job again, but said he would not begin campaigning just yet, instead urging residents to “look at my record” when considering their vote.
Speculation has been swirling about whether he will run alongside a team of other high-profile independents but he said he had not confirmed any such plans.
“As far a I’m concerned, that would be a contradiction as an independent,” Cr Bradbery said.
“But what I’m not seeing is good people putting up their hands – we need talented people who have good financial literacy, and I see too many people complaining about the council but they’re not putting their hands up to do the job.”
He said he wanted to encourage other “quality” independent candidates.
Greg Petty – the independent Helensburgh councillor who has clashed with Cr Bradbery numerous times in the past six years – has confirmed he will again stand for election, as both councillor and mayor.
In 2011, he gained 2.1 per cent of the mayoral vote.
Labor branch members are due to vote for their top candidates on Saturday.